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6901 Oglesby Cooperative 
Apartment Building 

6901 S. Oglesby Ave. 

Preliminary Landmark recommendation approved by the Commission 
on Chicago Landmarks, March 6, 2008 

Richard M. Daley, Mayor 

Department of Planning and Development 
Arnold L. Randall, Commissioner 

The Ccamission on Chicago Landmarks, whose nine members are appointed by the Mayor and 
CityCounci 1, was established in 1968 bycity ordinance. The Caimission is responsible for recatmend- 
ingtotheCltyCciuncilwhichindividiial buildings, sites, objects, ordistrixtsshouldbedesignatedas 
Chicago Landmarks, whichprotectsthembylaw. 

The landmark designation process begins with a staff study and a pre! iminary summary of 
infomationrelatedtothepotential designation criteria. Thenextstepisapreliminaryvotebythe 
landmarks caimission as to whether the proposed landmark is worthy of consideration . Ihisvotenot 
onlyinit iates the formal designat. i on process, but it p i aces the review of city permits for the property u nder 
the jurisdiction of the Caimission until a final landmark recommendation is acted on by the City Council. 

This Landmark Designation Report is subject to possible revision and amendment during the 
designation process. Only language conta i ned within the designation ordinance adcptedby the City 
Council shouldbe regardedas final . 

6901 Oglesby Cooperative 
Apartment Building 

6901 S. Oglesby Ave. 

Built: 1928-29 

Architect: Paul Frederick Olsen 

Located in the South Shore neighborhood, the 6901 Oglesby Cooperative Apartment Building 
is a handsome and noteworthy tall apartment building, a significant building type in the history of 
Chicago architecture and neighborhood development. Built as a cooperative apartment, and 
remaining one today, 6901 Oglesby exemplifies this important early stage of real-estate history 
in Chicago. The eleven-story brick-and-limestone-clad building is an excellent example of the 
English Gothic architectural style. Its exterior and first-floor interior public spaces, including a 
wood-paneled reception room with an intricate plaster ceiling, display fine detailing in traditional 
building materials. Through its refined design and excellent craftsmanship, 6901 Oglesby 
epitomizes the high-rise apartment buildings of the 1920s that form the historic basis for 
Chicago's visually distinctive lakefront. 

The Tall Apartment Building in Early 20th-century Chicago 

The history of Chicago's tall apartment buildings, including the 6901 Oglesby Cooperative 
Apartment Building, should be seen in the context of rising land and labor costs through the late 
19 th and early 20 th centuries, which gradually made apartment living in fashionable downtown 
and lakefront neighborhoods necessary for all but the most wealthy. Such buildings were first 
built in the 1890s in the wake of real-estate speculation associated with the World's Columbian 
Exposition of 1893. Culminating with the construction of dozens of high-rise cooperative 
apartment buildings along the Lake Michigan shoreline on the City's North and South Sides, 
including 6901 Oglesby, they reshaped Chicago in a visually, socially, and economically 
dramatic way. It was the demand for such tall apartment living that created the image of today's 

Chicago with its memorable "wall" of high-rise apartment buildings meeting the lakefront as a 
great man-made "cliff." 

In the years before the Great Depression and World War n, these buildings, with few 
exceptions, were designed in historic architectural styles, including both variations on classical 
and medieval stylistic traditions. 6901 Oglesby, with its 1 1 -story mass rising a block from the 
South lakefront open space of the South Shore Country Club and cloaked in a refined 
expression of the English Gothic Revival style, is a handsomely-executed example of this 
important historic theme of Chicago historic neighborhood development. 

When Chicago was first settled in the 1830s, and as it grew through its first forty years as a 
burgeoning frontier settlement, it was a city of houses and cottages. Only the poor found 
themselves living in multi-unit tenements, and even these buildings did not reach the size and 
squalor of those in New York's working-class neighborhoods of the mid- 19 th century. 

But starting in the 1870s, land prices began to make it increasingly necessary for Chicagoans of 
greater means and social standing to live in multi-unit buildings. Small flat buildings of two and 
three units began to be built in many Chicago neighborhoods. These "two-flats" and "three- 
flats" became the predominant building type in Chicago working- and middle-class 
neighborhoods throughout the late 19 th and early 20 th centuries as the City annexed neighboring 
townships and sprawled across much of Cook County. In the years on either side of World 
War I up to the economic cataclysm of the Great Depression, streets upon streets of such small- 
scale flat buildings, augmented by "six-flats," created a basis of residential comfort and stability 
for countless Chicago families. 

Chicago's upper-middle- and upper-income families, on the other hand, were more resistive to 
apartment living, considering it "declasse" to live either above or below other families. Initially, 
row houses provided a solution that recognized ever-increasing land prices that forced the social 
respectability of such families to give way to economic realities, and rows of such attached 
houses were built in fashionable neighborhoods on the South, West and (to a lesser extent) 
North Sides, starting in the late 1860s and extending into the 1890s. 

Even this more land-intensive type of single-family house, by the 1880s, did not answer the twin 
needs of upper-middle-class Chicagoans who wanted to live in desirable neighborhoods but 
had not the monetary means to build single-family houses. It was during this decade that the 
first self-consciously fashionable apartment buildings were built. Typically called "flats" and 
patterned after both fashionable Parisian and New York apartment buildings, such buildings 
were low in scale (typically three to five stories in height) and attempted, through multiple 
entrances and picturesque bays and rooflines, to resemble the social respectability of row 
houses. Almost all of these "first-generation" upper-middle-class flat buildings have since been 
demolished. The earliest and most significant of those that remain is the Hotel St. Benedict Flats 
at 40-52 E. Chicago Ave., designed in 1882 by James J. Egan in a polychromatic version of the 
medieval-inspired High Victorian Gothic architectural style. (It was designated a Chicago 
Landmark in 1996.) 

Top: The 6901 Oglesby Coopera- 
tive Apartment Building was built 
in 1928-1929 as a luxury coopera- 
tive apartment building designed 
by architect Paul Frederick Olsen. 

Left: It is located on the south- 
east corner of E. 69th St. and S. 
Oglesby Ave. in the northeastern 
edge of the South Shore neigh- 
borhood, close to Jackson Park to 
the north, the South Shore 
Cultural Center (originally the 
South Shore Country Club) to the 
east across South Shore Drive. 

The first construction of "tall apartment buildings" of typically eight to twelve floors occurred in 
reaction to the real-estate boom brought about from the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition, 
held in South-Side Chicago's Jackson Park. A number of tall apartment buildings, taking 
advantage of building technology advances such as steel-frame construction and safety 
elevators, were built in the neighborhoods both north and south of Chicago's Loop, as well in 
outlying neighborhoods such as Hyde Park, Englewood, and Lake View. Most were built to 
house visitors to the fair. Many remained hotels afterwards, albeit often catering to long-term 
residents, while others were converted to apartment use. Most have been demolished in 
intervening years. Two of the finest of these "first-generation" tall apartment buildings are the 
Brewster Apartments at 2800 N. Pine Grove Ave., built in 1893 to the design of Enoch Hill 
Turnock, and the Yale Apartments, built at 6565 S. Yale Ave. in 1892-93 and designed by John 
T. Long. Both were built in the then-popular Romanesque Revival architectural style, based on 
medieval architectural precedents. (Both are designated Chicago Landmarks.) 

During the remainder of the 1890s and the early 20 th -century years before World War I, larger 
Chicago apartment buildings constructed during this period mostly catered to upper-middle- 
class families wanting visual tastefulness and the latest in mechanical conveniences, including 
steam heat and kitchen appliances. Most of these apartment buildings were relatively low in 
scale in comparison with later 1920s buildings, and many were courtyard buildings, arranged in 
C- and E-shaped plans around landscaped courtyards opening off streets. Multiple entrances 
serving interior circulation hallways and stairs, and each serving typically six apartments, 
maintained greater privacy despite the larger actual number of apartments. These apartment 
buildings were almost always designed in the same variations on Classical and medieval 
architectural styles, although the innovative Prairie style and influences from Central European 
architectural innovators encouraged both a sense of horizontality and non-historic ornament in 
many buildings. The Partington Apartments at 660-700 W. Irving Park Rd., designed in 1902 
by architect David Postle, is one of the earliest and grandest of these courtyard apartment 

Other apartment buildings of this pre- World War I period were tall apartment buildings, built in 
fashionable neighborhoods, especially the Near North Side Gold Coast neighborhood, the Lake 
View neighborhood farther north on the Lake Michigan lakefront, and Hyde Park on Chicago's 
South Side, which increasingly was the South Side neighborhood of fashionable apartment 
living. Tall apartment buildings in these neighborhoods often borrowed architectural forms such 
as rounded and three-sided bays first from Chicago School commercial buildings built in the 
1880s. Such visually dynamic forms, combined with typically Classical-style ornament around 
doors, windows and rooflines, characterize such buildings as the McConnell Apartments at 
Astor and Division Streets, built in 1897 and designed by noted Chicago School architects 
Holabird and Roche in the heart of the increasingly upper-class Gold Coast; the Commodore 
Apartments at Broadway and Surf in the Lake View neighborhood, designed in 1897 by 
architect Edmund Krause; and the Bryson Apartment Building on Lake Park Ave. in Hyde 
Park, constructed in 1901 to designs by Solon S. Beman. (The Bryson was demolished during 
Hyde Park urban renewal efforts of the post- World War JJ era. The McConnell and 
Commodore Apartments are located in the Astor Street and Surf-Pine Grove Chicago 
Landmarks Districts, respectively.) 


Apartment buildings form a very large and important part of Chicago's neighborhood streetscapes. 
Typical examples built primarily for working- and middle-class residents during the late 19th and 
early 20th centuries include (top left) a three-flat in the Armitage-Halsted Chicago Landmark Dis- 
trict; (top right) rows of 3-story apartment buildings at 68th and Clyde (located within 2 blocks of 
6901 Oglesby); (middle left) a courtyard building in the Surf-Pine Grove District; (middle right) a 
common-corridor apartment building in the Newport Avenue District; and (bottom) the Bryn Mawr 
Apartment Hotel, designated as part of the Bryn Mawr-Belle Shore Apartment Hotels designation. 


Chicago's upper- and upper-middle-class familes, concerned with contemporary norms of 
social propriety and respectiability, were at first reluctant to embrace apartment living. 
One of the earliest apartment buildings intended for an upscale clientele was (top) the 
Hotel St. Benedict Flats at Wabash and Chicago Aves., designed in 1882 to imitate more 
respectable row houses. (It is a designated Chicago Landmark.) 

By the early 20th century, Chicago's elite families began to accept apartment living. Two 
seminal examples in the Gold Coast neighborhood were (bottom left) the Marshall Apart- 
ments at 1100 N. Lake Shore Dr. and (bottom right) 1130 N. Lake Shore Dr., built in 1905 and 
1910 respectively. 1130 N. Lake Shore Dr. is believed to be Chicago's first cooperative 
apartment, where individuals owned their own apartments. (Both have been demolished). 

It was also during the years immediately preceeding World War I that Chicago's most 
economically-elite families began to live in apartments. Three upscale apartment buildings in the 
Gold Coast neighborhood — increasingly the main concentration of the City's most monetarily 
and socially-advantaged families — were constructed during these years. Architect Benjamin 
Marshall designed and built in 1906 a (by today's standards) rather modestly-scaled, eight- 
story apartment building at 1 100 N. Lake Shore Dr. The first such building on elite Lake Shore 
Drive, the Marshall Apartments (demolished) provided rental apartments of a scale and 
grandeur that attracted families of wealth and social stature to apartment living that a few years 
before would not have considered such a life. In 1910 architect Howard Van Doren Shaw 
designed a nine-story apartment building at 1 130 N. Lake Shore Dr. to house himself and 
several friends. Then, in 1912, Benjamin Marshall designed arguably the grandest apartment 
building ever built in Chicago. Located at 1550 N. State St. and overlooking Lincoln Park to 
the north and Lake Michigan to the east, this elaborately-detailed, terra-cotta-clad apartment 
building contained expansive apartments that laid to rest the argument that apartment living could 
not equal the splendor and scale of mansions. 

The Development of Cooperative Apartments in the 1920s 

Although apartment buildings both large and small were built in the years before 1920, it was 
during the decade of the "Roaring Twenties" that tall cooperative apartment buildings became an 
important presence in Chicago's burgeoning skyline. This new legal mechanism of cooperative 
ownership of apartment buildings allowed individuals to own their own apartments. Combined 
with both economic factors and changes in government regulation of land use in Chicago, it 
greatly encouraged apartment living among Chicago's upper- and upper-middle-class families. 

The 1920s was a "golden age" of apartment construction in general. For middle-class families, 
two- and three-flats were built throughout new neighborhoods on the developed edge of the 
City. In neighborhoods near the lake or elevated rail lines, somewhat larger-scale development 
in the form of six-flats and courtyard and common-corridor apartment buildings were built. The 
rising number of single people living and working in the rapidly expanding economy of Chicago 
especially sought apartments suitable for their budgets and needs. These were often apartment 
hotels, built for long-term residency but with hotel amenities such as common dining rooms, 
room service, and housekeeping services. Until the advent of the non-historic Art Deco 
architectural style around 1928, such middle-class apartment buildings continued to be built in 
historic architectural styles such as Classicism and variations on medievalism. 

The "creme de la creme" of 1920s-era apartment construction were the tall apartment buildings 
typically 10- to 20-stories in height that were built in scores up and down Chicago's Lake 
Michigan shoreline. Fashionable residential lakefront neighborhoods such as Lake View and 
Edgewater on the north and Hyde Park and South Shore on the south, where the first round of 
development had emphasized single-family houses and small flat buildings, suddenly experienced 
a dramatic change in scale with the construction of residential skyscrapers. These tall buildings 
began to replace existing mansions or were built on previously undeveloped land, towering over 
existing homes. In neighborhoods such as Lake View and Hyde Park, this first wave of tall 

apartment building construction saw such skyscrapers lining Lincoln and Burnham Parks. In 
Edgewater and South Shore, tall apartment buildings more often were built as free-standing 
high-rises amidst lower-scale development. Together, they form the historic core of today's 
dramatic Chicago lakefront skyline. 

Economic changes in home living in the 1920s 

The impetus for this residential high-rise development was multifold. First, economic changes 
brewing before World War I that made large-scale houses in Chicago more costly and difficult 
to run came to a head. Restrictions in immigration enacted by the United States government in 
the early 1920s exacerbated the already-existing "servant problem." Mansions and even large- 
scale houses required large service staffs for their proper maintenance, and freshly-arrived 
European immigrants had traditionally filled house staffs in all but the highest-status positions 
such as housekeeper and butler. Without such numbers of new immigrants, supply-and-demand 
saw the dramatic raising of salaries, especially since the booming economy of the 1920s 
provided other ways than service to make a living. 

When combined with the advent of income taxes, even the wealthy found themselves 
reevaluating their housing options. Many who had been keeping a large city house as well as an 
expansive country estate cut back, selling their in-town mansion and moving into a more 
convenient and economical apartment. 

Legalization of cooperative apartment buildings 

Changes in residential living were also encouraged by changes in Illinois real-estate law that 
made it possible for apartment dwellers to own their own apartments through corporations 
called "cooperatives." Illinois had traditionally banned the ability of corporations to buy and 
develop land, and through the 1910s, real-estate construction and speculation had been a 
business that regularly promised either personal boom or bust for individuals responsible for the 
fortunes of their real-estate endeavors. 

Corporations owning residential buildings did exist before the 1920s, but they were after-the- 
fact entities, put in place after buildings were completed. This was the case with architect 
Howard Van Doren Shaw's 1 130 N. Lake Shore Dr. building, generally considered the first 
cooperative apartment building in Chicago. Shaw and several friend-investors paid an agent to 
purchase land and construct the building in 1910. Then after completion, a corporation was 
formed to own the building, with Shaw and his friends owning shares in the corporation that 
allowed them to acquire leases to their apartments. 

Changes in Hlinois law enacted in 1919 and 1922 took away the need for the middle-man 
agent. Corporations could be formed with the express purpose of buying land, removing existing 
buildings, building an apartment building, and selling corporation shares that allowed the 
shareholder a right to an apartment and a say in the operation of the building. Cooperative 
shareholders, through their corporation ownership, were given leases, typically 99 years in 
length with rights of renewal for specific apartments in the building. The size and location of 
apartments in a cooperative apartment building could vary, requiring a greater or lesser 
investment in corporation shares. Like stockholders in any corporation, shareholders in 





McKev & Poague, Inc. 


Cooperative apartment buildings in the 1920s were usually advertised through hand- 
somely-printed sales prospectuses, which included renderings of the proposed buildings' 
exteriors and interiors. Pictured here is the cover of the 6901 Oglesby Cooperative Apart- 
ment Building sales prospectus. 

/til ■'fftiXi'k .." i%fc&£cJl m -Of. iitf- F.iiirftf. 

The 6901 Oglesby 
prospectus also 
contained sketches 
showing the first-floor 
public reception room 
and a "suggested 
treatment" of a typical 
apartment living room. 


cooperative apartment corporations were entitled to sell their stocks and transfer their 
apartment leases to other individuals, either existing shareholders or outside individuals. 
However, the collective corporation ownership, through the cooperative's officers and board 
members, had veto power over new shareholders. This allowed shareholders to prevent 
socially or economically questionable individuals from acquiring apartments in cooperative 
buildings, and lent an air of refinement and exclusivity that most cooperative owners sought. 

Cooperative apartment buildings sometimes were built by individuals that were friends or 
business acquaintances, and these buildings had the soundest financial basis and most social 
cachet. For example, 2430 N. Lake View Ave. was built in 1927 to house some of the most 
important industrial families of Chicago, including the Marshall Fields, the Cudahys of meat- 
packing renown, and the Thornes of the Montgomery Ward mail-order company (and also the 
Thome Miniature Rooms of The Art Institute of Chicago). These buildings rarely advertised 
apartments on the open market, depending upon word-of-mouth to fill the few apartments not 
already taken by founding corporation shareholders. 

Most cooperative apartment buildings, however, including 6901 Oglesby, were speculative 
ventures. Corporations were formed by developers, often partnered with an architect, and 
building prospectuses were widely disseminated in order to attract investors. These 
prospectuses were typically finely printed and elaborately detailed, with renderings of building's 
exteriors, common interior spaces, typical apartment rooms, and sample floor plans. Architects 
who specialized in these buildings, including Paul Frederick Olsen (the architect of 6901 
Oglesby), Quinn & Christensen, McNally & Quinn, Robert DeGolyer, and Benjamin Marshall, 
often received cooperative stock as partial or even total payment for their services. Often 
architects worked repeatedly for the same developer; Harold C. Costello, the developer of 
6901 Oglesby worked a number of times with architect Olsen. In addition, cooperative 
developers often worked in specific neighborhoods where they were well-known and were 
familiar with the market. Costello appears to have focused his real-estate ventures in the South 
Shore neighborhood, where 6901 Oglesby is located. The 6901 Oglesby sales prospectus lists 
the building as the ninth cooperative apartment building built by Costello. 

Once a sufficient number of cooperative shares were sold, shareholders elected a board of 
directors to run the corporation and manage the building. Typically, boards hired management 
companies to handle day-to-day operations and staffing such as janitorial service, doormen, 
repairmen, garage attendants, and gardeners. 

Cooperative apartment corporations could be structured so that all apartments were to be 
occupied by shareholders. These so-called "100% cooperative buildings" were considered the 
best socially and the soundest financially. 6901 Oglesby was a 100% cooperative building. 
Other cooperatives, built as more speculative ventures, contained some apartments reserved for 
cooperative shareholders and others for renters. The logic behind this legal arrangement is that 
renters subsidized the costs of maintaining the building to the advantage of shareholders. In these 
buildings, shareholder apartments were generally larger, more finely finished, and had better 
views than apartments intended for renters. 


Cooperative apartment buildings were touted by real-estate officials throughout the 1920s. In 
the years before 1963, when Illinois legalized condominium ownership, cooperatives were the 
only way to own an apartment. During the 1920s, 100 cooperative apartment buildings of the 
"100 per cent variety" had been built in Chicago, according to a 1930 pamphlet on cooperative 
apartments published by the Chicago Real Estate Board. These building represented 3,414 
apartments containing 18,831 rooms, housing more than 20,000 people. The total value of 
these buildings in 1930 was estimated to be over $80,000,000. 

Chicago's zoning ordinance of 1923 

At almost the same time as the legalization of cooperative apartments in 1922, the City of 
Chicago passed its first zoning ordinance in 1923. Legal mechanisms to control land use and 
building size, scale, massing, and setbacks had previously existed in Chicago, including 
restrictive covenants and frontage consents, but city-wide land-use planning had been lacking. 
The 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Jackson Park, with its widely-praised "White City," 
and the subsequent Plan of Chicago in 1909 focused Chicagoans' attention on the benefits of 
comprehensive and wide-ranging city planning for what its citizens increasingly saw as a world- 
class city in the making. New York had passed a pioneering zoning ordinance in 1916 that 
regulated both land use and building size, scale, and form. Many citizens felt that Chicago 
deserved no less. 

The resulting 1923 zoning ordinance was relatively simple by today's standards, but it laid out 
goals for separating land uses such as commercial, industrial, and residential into their own 
defined areas. It also set what were called "volume districts" that regulated building size and 
massing. The ordinance attempted to take into account already existing conditions as well as to 
encourage already- visible trends, including the transformation of Chicago's lakefront into a 
concentration of commercial skyscrapers in the Central Area and residential high-rises rising 
both north and south along the City's lakefront. (The largest "volume districts" set forth by the 
zoning ordinance were downtown and in lakefront neighborhoods.) 

Seemingly overnight, formerly single-family neighborhoods such as Lake View and Edgewater 
on the north were being transformed into apartment building districts. South Side 
neighborhoods such as more-established Hyde Park and still-developing South Shore also saw 
a great deal of tall apartment building construction, almost all of it either cooperative apartment 
buildings or apartment hotels. In these communities, especially in South Shore, tall apartment 
buildings tended not to form "walls" along the lakefront, but rose individually or in small groups 
of two or three, unlike in Hyde Park or North Side neighborhoods. 

By the early 1930s, when building construction had largely ground to a halt due to the Great 
Depression, the first-generation buildings of today's high-rise lakefront arguably one of 
Chicago's most distinctive visual assets were in place, including 6901 Oglesby. 


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Chicago's first zoning ordinance, enacted in 1923, provided a legal framework for the 
creation of large-scale apartment neighborhoods and set the stage for Chicago's visually 
distinctive lakefront, where miles of high-rise apartment buildings form a man-made 
"cliff." The 1920s saw low-scale single-family neighborhoods change radically as these 
new large-scale apartment buildings were constructed. Top: This illustration from a 
publication for 1120 N. Lake Shore Dr. (the tallest building in the rendering) illustrates the 
dramatic change in neighborhood scale that these 1920s tall apartment buildings, includ- 
ing 6901 Oglesby, brought to their neighborhoods. Bottom left: 707 W. Junior Terrace, 
designed as a cooperative apartment building by 6901 Oglesby's architect, Paul Frederick 
Olsen, further illustrates the dramatic change in scale typical of 1920s Chicago lakefront 
development. Bottom right: The cover from the 1923 zoning ordinance. 



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The 6901 Oglesby Cooperative Apartment Building was conceived as a "100% cooperative 
building," where all apartments would be owned and occupied by owners. Top left: A 
Chicago Tribune advertisement touting the sale of shares in the corporation constructing 
the building. Top right and bottom: A perspective and typical upper-floor plan of the 
building published in a prospectus used to entice buyers. 


Building History and Description 

On April 14, 1928, the Chicago Tribune announced the upcoming construction of a new 11- 
story cooperative apartment building intended for the southeast comer of E. 69 th St. and S. 
Oglesby Ave. in the South Shore community area. Harold C. Costello, already known for 
smaller-scale cooperative apartment buildings in the neighborhood, was the developer. The 
building was to cost approximately $1,300,000 and contain 40 apartments of five, six, and 
seven rooms each. 

The location for the building was an excellent one and typical of sites chosen for the best 
cooperative apartment buildings being constructed in the 1920s. It was located in the 
northeastern corner of South Shore, two blocks from Jackson Park to the north and one block 
from the lakefront South Shore Country Club to the east. Two blocks to the south, the South 
Shore Railroad commuter line ran down E. 71 st St., at the time one of Chicago's best 
neighborhood shopping streets, providing quick and convenient service to the Loop. In 
addition, South Shore Drive, a block to the east, provided easy automobile connections to Lake 
Shore Drive and downtown Chicago, while express buses to the Loop ran from South Shore as 
well. Across E. 69 th St., the open space surrounding the 68 th St. water pumping station, 
promised excellent views from most apartments. (This space is now a small community park.) 

When completed in 1929, 6901 Oglesby, as it was named, occupied a lot that was 145 feet 
along Oglesby and 175 feet along E. 69 th St. Unlike many tall apartment buildings of the 1920s, 
the building did not cover the entire site. Instead, the building's 69 th St. elevation stepped back 
from its eastern comer in a series of undulating bays that provided both a wide swath of 
landscaped yard along the street and a visual sense of movement. Eleven stories in height, the 
building was built utilizing red tapestry brick and gray Bedford limestone over steel-frame 
construction. A partially underground attached parking garage tucked at the rear of the building 
housed 36 cars and was directly accessible from the main apartment building. The overall 
shape of the building's plan (minus the garage) is a rather free-form C-shape, meant to provide 
space for a first-floor open-air terrace atop the garage roof, historically used as common space 
for apartment owner parties and recreation, while maximizing views and air for apartments 

The overall architectural style for 6901 Oglesby is based on the medieval forms and details of 
English Gothic architecture. The building's design is idiomatic of other tall apartment buildings of 
the period in that the finest-textured and -detailed ornament is at the ground level where 
pedestrians can view it most easily especially around the building's chief entrance facing Oglesby 
and around windows, atop projecting bays, and along the building's irregular, visually 
picturesque roof parapet. The building's overall visual character is restrained and dignified, 
which is typical of the best-quality cooperative apartment buildings of the period. It was said in 
contemporary newspaper accounts and by later historians that apartment hotels were 
ornamented rather splashily in order to draw residents, while cooperative apartment buildings 
were designed in a more subdued manner to emphasize the good taste and social respectability 
of apartment owners. 


Bottom: 6901 Oglesby is 
an eleven-story building 
built of red tapestry brick 
and gray Bedford lime- 
stone over a steel-frame 
structure. It is designed in 
the Gothic Revival 
architectrual style, a 
historic style considered by 
Chicagoans of the 1920s to 
convey a sense of propri- 
ety, domesticity, and 

Right: Its roofline is 
picturesque in its use of 
varying setbacks and 
Gothic Revival motives, 
including arched windows 
and finials. 





The building's overall 
form is unusually 
"plastic," meaning that 
its wall surfaces recede 
inward, push outward, 
and fold to create a 
sense of visual dyna- 
mism that is unusual for 
large-scale, tall apart- 
ment buildings of the 


6901 Oglesby's main entrance faces Oglesby 
Avenue itself. Bottom: A view of the project- 
ing entrance porch, designed with Gothic-style 
arches, crenellation, and a decorative shield 
and tracery. Top left: A view of the shield 
bearing the building's address. Top right: The 
continuous gray limestone-clad bay rising 
above the entrance is repeated on both street 
elevations of the building. 


•<XfH ^^ ,'rl 


The building's Gothic-arched 
entrance porch shelters a 
vaulted-arched area paved with 
flagstones. The wooden en- 
trance doors, sidelights, and 
transoms, all ornamented with 
leaded glass, are set within a 
stone Gothic-style archway. 


Inside the building's main entrance is a 
lavishly detailed mail vestibule, with a 
variety of both decorative and functional 
niches and decorated with a variety of 
multi-colored tilework. 


The building's first floor is clad in gray Bedford limestone along street elevations. Above, red 
tapestry brick is predominantiy used, while Bedford limestone is used for shallowly-projecting 
three-sided bays, window sills and other decoration, and rooftop ornament. Even the building's 
rear (south and east) elevations are clad with red face brick and trimmed with Bedford 
limestone. (It was considered a sign of good "neighborliness" in the 1920s for tall apartment 
buildings, already shattering established building heights of residential neighborhoods, to use face 
brick, rather than common brick, for side and rear elevations. Newspaper accounts of the 
period referred to "shirtwaist" buildings, those using face brick only on street facades, with 

The building's facades are more architecturally "plastic" than the average tall apartment building 
of the period. Not only do the aforementioned limestone-clad bays break the dominant wall 
plane, but larger wall planes project and recede in a visually-interesting manner. Wall and bay 
edges are further articulated with triangular brick piers that rise the height of the building, adding 
an additional sense of detail and visual "movement" to the building's facades. Windows are 
typically rectangular, one-over-one double-hung windows, although top-floor apartments often 
have tall windows set with Gothic-style lancet windows ornamented with stone tracery. 

The building has relatively little applied ornament, most of which is focused on the first floor 
around entrances, at the top of projecting bays, and along the building's roofline. First-floor 
ornament, more easily viewed by pedestrians, is both stone-carved medieval figures and tracery, 
accompanied by decorative-metal lanterns, while upper-floor ornament is mostly boldly-carved 
gargoyle figures, vertical finials, intricate tracery, and crenellation, all typical of the Gothic 
Revival architectural style. The building's roof parapet is crenellated and ornamented with 
simple Gothic-style finials in the manner of a late medieval English Gothic palace. 

6901 Oglesby has two street entrances an automobile entrance for the building garage in the 
easternmost bay facing E. 69 th St. and paired with a small pedestrian service entrance; and an 
elaborately-detailed main entrance facing S. Oglesby Ave. This main entrance projects outward 
into the building's front yard facing Oglesby and is a boldly-modeled, Gothic Revival-style 
entrance porch dominated by an open archway, carved tracery, lanterns, twin flagpoles and a 
crennelated roofline. Above this entrance is a finely-carved medieval shield surrounded by 
tightly interlaced foliate ornament and bearing the building's address, "6901." The building's 
doorway is deeply recessed at the rear of this entrance porch, which is vaulted and paved with 
blueish-green flagstones. Double wood-paneled doors have diamond-paned leaded glass that 
match leaded-glass sidelights and Gothic-arched transoms, all set within a slightly-pointed 
Gothic stone archway. 

First-floor public spaces 

6901 Oglesby has an exceptionally well-detailed set of first-floor public rooms, including a mail 
vestibule, small anteroom, main reception room and two elevator lobbies, as well as an outdoor, 
open-air terrace atop the garage roof which is accessed from the main reception room. The 
combination of spaces, with their fine finishes in traditional historic materials such as wood and 
plaster, create an elegant transition from the outer world to the more private apartments. 


Inside the building's inner door, built of wood and decorated with leaded and stained 
glass, the building's anteroom is paneled with a high wooden wainscot and leads, through 
a pair of Gothic-style arches, to a large central reception room. 



6901 Oglesby's two tenant 
elevator lobbies have tall 
wood-paneled wainscot- 
ing and beautifully- 
paneled wood elevator 
doors. Each lobby serves 
only two apartments per 

Top left: The smaller of 
the two elevator lobbies, 
just off the anteroom and 
serving the westernmost 
apartments. Top right: 
The elevator door in the 
western elevator lobby is 
flanked by finely-carved 
pilasters ornamented with 
Ionic capitals in the 
Classical architectural 

Right: A view of the 
larger elevator lobby, on 
the opposite side of the 
reception room, which 
serves the easternmost 


The mail vestibule is elaborately floored with square and polygonal tiles forming abstract, 
geometric patterns, while square and rectangular wall tiles form subtle wall patterns. Geometric 
metal grillework hide heating units. Mailbox alcoves flank the vestibule and are similarly tiled. 
Earth colors such as brown, tan, light burgundy dominate, with accents of blue and green. The 
vestibule also has historic ceiling light fixtures. 

Tiled stairs lead to a single inner door of varnished wood and leaded glass, set within an 
elaborate rectangular surround with leaded glass sidelights and transoms. The leaded sidelights 
are further ornamented with stained-glass shields decorated with heraldic lions, while a stained- 
glass panel ornamented with a 16 th -century sailing ship decorates the central transom. 

Inside this door is the first of several interconnected spaces separated by wide arches that 
collectively serve as the building's first floor reception room and elevator lobbies. Just inside the 
inner door, a small anteroom to the larger reception room has high varnished- wood wainscot 
paneling and wood ceiling beams ornamented with classical-style leaf motives and medieval- 
style stenciling. Left of this space is an intimately-scaled elevator lobby with high wood 
wainscoting, one of two in the building. The elevator door is wood paneled and flanked with 
elaborately-carved Ionic -order wood pilasters. 

Past the anteroom, through twin shallow Gothic-style arches, a large reception lobby occupies 
the center of the building's first floor. It has floor-to-ceiling varnished- wood paneling and an 
elaborately-detailed, Gothic-style plaster ceiling ornamented with Gothic-style tracery and 
detailed with stylized flowers and rosettes picked out in pastel colors. Windows along the 
northern wall look out onto E. 69 th St., while a set of wide steps on the south wall lead to multi- 
paned French doors, a small covered outdoor loggia, and a rear open-air terrace built over the 
garage. The terrace itself is simply detailed with a painted concrete floor and brick-and- 
limestone retaining walls. 

On the far side of the large reception room is a single Gothic-style archway leading to a second, 
elevator lobby, larger in scale than the first but also ornamented with high wood-paneled 
varnished wainscoting, wood ceiling beams, and a wood-paneled elevator door similar to that in 
the first elevator lobby. 

These first-floor public spaces are very finely detailed, including a plethora of wood paneling, 
carved Classical- style pilasters around elevator doors, elaborate Gothic-style plaster ceilings, 
and wood ceiling beams, stenciled with medieval-style figures such as mythological griffins. 
Archway surrounds are handsomely carved with moldings and elaborately-detailed flower 

Architect Paul Frederick Olsen 

The architect of the 6901 Oglesby Cooperative Apartment Building, Paul Frederick Olsen 
(circa 1890-1946), is best known for his handsomely designed apartment buildings in Chicago. 
He began architectural practice in the 1910s, designing small-scale apartment buildings such as 
the three-story apartment building on the southwest comer of W. Surf St. and N. Cambridge 


Top right: The side and rear elevations of 6901 Oglesby are finished in face brick, rather than 
common brick. Bottom: The building's rear terrace, built over an enclosed 36-car garage, is 
entered from a sheltered loggia accessed from the building's reception room. Top left: Al- 
though the terrace is simply detailed with a painted concrete floor, its retaining wall has hand- 
some brick details. 


Ave., built in 1915 and part of the Surf-Pine Grove Chicago Landmark District designated in 

The period of his greatest output, however, was the 1920s, and he is one of several significant 
architects who worked with developers to create apartment buildings in Chicago's fashionable 
lakefront neighborhoods. For middle-class tenants, he designed several rental buildings at 71 st 
PL and Jeffery Blvd. in the South Shore neighborhood that are part of the Jeffery-Cyril Historic 
District, listed on the National Register of Historic Places; these include the Spanish Colonial 
Revival-style at 1966-74 E. 71 st PL built in 1928, and the Jeffery Terrace Apartments at 7130 
S. Jeffery, designed in 1929 in the visually "jazzy" Art Deco architectural style. 

For more upscale clients, Olsen built a variety of cooperative buildings. These include a 12- 
story building at 707 W. Junior Terrace in the Buena Park section of Uptown. Built in 1926, it 
contained just one apartment per floor, plus a two-story penthouse. In the Hyde Park 
neighborhood, Olsen's most prominent design is the Vista Homes cooperative at 5830-44 S. 
Stony Island Ave. Overlooking the northern end of Jackson Park and the Museum of Science 
and Industry, the 17-story building was designed in the Gothic Revival architectural style and 
touted at the time of its construction in 1925-27 as the largest cooperative building in the world 
with its 120 apartments. Built just before 6901 Oglesby, the Vista Homes also was built with an 
two-story enclosed parking garage attached to the apartment building meant to house more than 
100 automobiles. In newspaper accounts of the period, it was claimed to be the "World's 1 st 
Co- Op garage." 

Besides 6901 Oglesby, Olsen is known to have designed a number of other apartment buildings 
in the South Shore neighborhood. These include an eight-story English Gothic-style cooperative 
building at 6738 S. Oglesby Ave. that was finished in 1928. For Harold C. Costello, with 
whom Olsen worked on 6901 Oglesby, the architect also designed an eight-story cooperative 
building at 6922 S. Jeffery Ave. in 1927. 

Chicago Apartment Buildings and Architectural Styles 

The 6901 Oglesby Cooperative Apartment Building, with its gracefully restrained Gothic 
Revival-style exterior and luxuriously-detailed first-floor public spaces, exemplifies the use of 
historic architectural styles that reached its apex in Chicago in the 1920s. Traditional styles such 
as Classicism and its many variants, plus medieval-influenced styles such as Gothic Revival and 
Tudor Revival, had long been favored by both Chicago developers and residents. Non-historic, 
innovative architectural styles such as the Chicago School, the Prairie style, and influences from 
progressive Central European architectural movements such as the Viennese Secession were 
used at varying times for apartment hotels and for middle- and working-class apartments. 
However, Chicago's elite preferred the time-honored Classical and medieval architectural styles 
that traditionally conferred social respectability. Although not marketed to the most elite of 
Chicago families, 6901 Oglesby sought through the association of its finely-crafted Gothic 


Revival-style forms and details to impart an aura of good taste, fine manners, and propriety that 
Chicago's upper-class families cherished and its striving upper-middle class sought to emulate. 

Architectural styles and working- and middle-class apartment buildings 
The architectural tastes of working- and middle-class Chicagoans, although influenced by 
tradition, also were much influenced by fashions of the day. Small flat buildings, built by the 
thousands from the 1870s through the 1920s for working- and middle-class families, almost 
always had some kind of ornament, usually historic, to soften their otherwise "cookie-cutter" 
appearances. In the case of brick two- and three-flats, such ornament could be as simple as 
different brick colors used for a row of otherwise identical buildings. More often, ornament 
would be found decorating door surrounds, window lintels, porches and cornices. Most 
commonly, the style of this ornament was classical in nature, ranging from Italianate for the 
earliest examples of such flat buildings to more authentically correct classical ornament seen in 
the early 1900s. 

However, the work of progressive Chicago architects did "trickle down" to middle-class 
apartment construction. Some middle-class apartment buildings by the 1910s began to show 
the influence of Frank Lloyd Wright's innovative Prairie style. Horizontal proportions, 
unusually-detailed door surrounds, wide overhanging eaves, and rectangular leaded-glass 
windows began to be seen in some apartment buildings in Chicago. Also, the influx of Central 
European builders, craftsman, and laborers saw the emergence of progressive Austrian, Czech 
and German architectural forms, including but not limited to, boldly abstracted and geometric 
door surrounds, as well as pilaster and pier capitals. 

Then, by 1929, just before the stock market collapse and the onset of the Great Depression, 
the Art Deco architectural style, typically called "modernistic" in contemporary news reports 
and loosely based on the innovative architecture and decorative arts shown at the 1925 
Exposition des Arts-Decor atifs in Paris, began to supplant classicism, medievalism, and earlier 
progressive styles such as Prairie in middle-class apartment building designs. The new style's 
boldly-abstracted floral motives and sharp-angled zigzags and chevrons were widely used for 
larger common-corridor apartment buildings and apartment hotels, although some elite 
cooperative apartments, including two on Astor Street designed by Philip Maher, also used 
variations on the style. 

Architectural styles and upper-middle and upper-class apartment buildings 
Well-to-do Chicagoans in the 19 th century, though, preferred single-family houses to apartment 
buildings, seeing apartments as socially inferior and even somewhat degenerate. The 1880s 
began to see this stigma lift with the advent in Chicago of Parisian-type "flats" buildings that 
imitated row houses and which were designed in the decade's most fashionable styles, including 
Victorian Gothic, Second Empire and Queen Anne. The Hotel St. Benedict Flats at 40-52 W. 
Chicago Ave. (a designated Chicago Landmark) remains as the earliest surviving example of 
these first-generation prestigious flat buildings. 

Throughout the 1890s and early 1900s, apartment buildings for the upper-middle class began to 
be built on the Near North Side. A common style was a variation on the Chicago School, with 


Architectrual styles used for Chicago 
apartment buildings have ranged widely, 
including both historic and non-historic 
styles. Examples include (top left) the 
Chicago School bays and sculptural 
simplicity of the Commodore Apartments 
in the Surf-Pine Grove Chicago Landmark 
District; the historic Classical and Gothic 
Revival styles of 1550 N. State St. (top 
right) and 1120 N. Lake Shore Dr. (middle 
left); the progressive Central European 
influences seen in the entrance to an 
apartment building in the Arlington- 
Deming District (middle right); and (left) 
the "modernistic" ornament characteris- 
tic of the non-historic Art Deco style as 
used in the Belle Shore Aparment Hotel 
(a designated Chicago Landmark.) 


relatively unadorned masonry walls broken by continuously- vertical round and three-sided bays. 
The McConnell Apartments at Division and Astor (part of the Astor Street Chicago Landmark 
District) is a fine example of the use of this originally-commercial architectural style for 
residential apartments. 

By 1910, however, as the first wave of truly high-end apartment buildings in Chicago began to 
be built in Chicago's Gold Coast neighborhood along both East and North Lake Shore Drives, 
the Classical and Tudor Revival styles began their dominance in the hearts and tastes of the 
"striving" and the "arrived." Benjamin Marshall's Marshall Apartments at 1100 N. Lake Shore 
Dr., built in 1906 (demolished) and widely considered the first elite apartment building, was built 
in a red brick-and- white trim variation on the Colonial Revival, albeit much bigger than any 
Colonial building had been at eight stories in height. Nearby, Howard Van Doren Shaw's 1 130 
N. Lake Shore Dr. was built in an English Gothic Revival-style that, with its continuous 
projecting bays and crennelated roofline, was not dissimilar to the style used by Paul Frederick 
Olsen for the later 6901 Oglesby building. Then, in 1912, Benjamin Marshall again set a 
standard for luxury and chic with the 1550 North Lake Shore Drive apartment building. 
Designed with a stunningly-white terra cotta skin and opulent French Classical-style ornament, 
Marshall's building convinced wealthy Chicagoans that apartment living might indeed be not just 
respectable, but preferable to increasingly expensive and bothersome single-family houses. 

So, when the building boom of the 1920s began, and dozens of upscale apartment buildings 
were constructed, the styles used until 1929 were restrained versions of the Classical and 
medieval styles. Although apartment living was now respectable, even glamorous with its 
"penthouse" and "cliff dweller" connotations, upper- and upper-middle-class families sought 
visual restraint and luxury without flash. Both contemporary writers and modem-day historians 
have commented that the more exclusive apartment buildings of the 1920s were the least 
visually "flashy," while middle-class apartment buildings and the more transient apartment hotels 
used more exuberant, and as the 1920s ended, the more exotic to draw tenants. 

Hence, the relatively visual "quiet" and respectability of 6901 Oglesby 's exterior, paired with its 
handsomely-finished first-floor reception spaces, was meant to convey an air of exclusivity, 
taste, and culture. Traditional building materials such as red brick and gray Bedford limestone 
were used in restrained fashion. Ornament was placed judiciously around the building's 
entrance and along its roofline for the greatest visibility and effect. More unusually, the building's 
massing and in-and-out arrangement of wall planes was executed with a degree of picturesque 
asymmetry that provided visual interest without an over-reliance on ornament. 

Later History 

From the time of its opening in 1929, the 6901 Oglesby Cooperative Apartment Building was 
occupied by a cross-section of South Shore professionals and businessmen. Apartment owners 
typically were professionals in the fields of medicine and law; bankers and commodity traders; 
and owners of small- and medium-sized companies. 


In mid-1933, at the depth of the Great Depression, the 6901 Oglesby building corporation 
defaulted on its mortgage. Unlike many cooperatives, which were forced to convert to rental 
apartment buildings in the lean years of the 1930s, 6901 Oglesby was able to refinance. It has 
remained a cooperative to this day. 

In the years following, 6901 Oglesby remained home to financially-successful and socially well- 
connected South Shore families, many of whom belonged to local social clubs such as the South 
Shore Country Club and the Bryn Mawr Women's Club. Among those who resided in the 
building during its first forty years were William E. Crocombe, president of the American Forge 
Co.; Homer E. Niesz, manager of industrial relations of the Commonwealth Edison Co.; Joseph 
B. Zimmers, secretary-treasurer of the Herron-Zimmers Molding Co.; Dr. Robert E. Wilson, 
president of the Pan American Petroleum and Transport Co.; Frank E. Glover, a member of the 
Chicago Board of Trade; Guy G. Fox, vice-president of Armour and Co.; inventor Albert C. 
Fischer; contractor John W. Snyder, president of John W. Snyder & Co., general contractors; 
Dr. Frederick W. Moeller, a founder of Woodlawn Hospital; William M. Black, president of the 
Electro Alloy division of the American Brake Shoe Co.; Circuit Court Judge Leonard C. Reid; 
Charles B. Nolte, president of the Crane Co.; John R. Roney, Sr., founder of the Consumers 
Sanitary Coffee and Butter Stores Co., a 350-store grocery chain in the Chicago area that 
became part of the larger Kroger grocery store chain; real estate and insurance broker Leonard 
J. Malone; John Sarther, president of the central distributing division of the Consolidated Foods 
Corp.; Eugene E. Munger, vice-president of the Goodman-Munger Coal Co.; Dr. John F. 
Shallenberger; Paul L. Benshoof, Sr., vice-president of Encyclopedia Americana; Henry C. 
Forster, president of the Utah Radio Products Co.; Dr. Herbert E. Landes, professor and 
chairman of the department of urology in the Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine; OT. 
Carson, chairman of the board of the Domestic Engineering Co., business magazine publishers; 
George W. Kemp Sr., chairman of real-estate firm McKey & Poague (the firm that had 
originally sold apartments in the building for developer Costello); Dr. Patrick H. McNulty, 
president of the Chicago Medical Society; and Mrs. Mabel Lewis Rockwell, one of Chicago's 
first policewomen. 

In the last 40 years, as South Shore became a majority African- American neighborhood, 6901 
Oglesby has seen numerous African- American professionals and businesspeople become 
owners in the building. These include Associate Cook County Circuit Judge Llwellyn Greene- 
Thapedi; CBS-TV reporter and national morning anchorwoman Michelle Clark, who was killed 
in an airplane crash at Midway Airport in December 1972; Charles Coles, owner of Army and 
Lou's Restaurant; classical singer William Warfield; architect Le Roy Hilliard; and Rev. Dr. 
Calvin Morris, director of the Chicago Community Renewal Society. 

The 6901 Oglesby Cooperative Apartment Building was rated "orange" in the Chicago Historic 
Resources Survey. It also was one of the apartment buildings featured in historian Neil Harris's 
Chicago Apartments: A Century of Lakefront Luxury, which documented Chicago's finest 
apartment buildings. 


The 6901 Ogelsby Cooperative Apartment Building is 
finely detailed on its exterior with ornament in tradi- 
tional building materials, including red brick, gray 
Bedford limestone, and decorative metal. 


Criteria for Designation 

According to the Municipal Code of Chicago (Sect 2-120-690), the Commission on Chicago 
Landmarks has the authority to make a final recommendation of landmark designation for a 
building, structure, object or district if the Commission determines it meets two or more of the 
stated "criteria for designation," as well as possesses a significant degree of its historic design 

The following should be considered by the Commission on Chicago Landmarks in determining 
whether to recommend that the 6901 Oglesby Cooperative Apartment Building be designated 
as a Chicago Landmark. 

Criterion 1: Critical Part of the City's History 

Its value as an example of the architectural, cultural, economic, historic, social, or other 
aspect of the heritage of the City of Chicago, State of Illinois, or the United States. 

• The 6901 Oglesby Cooperative Apartment Building epitomizes the historically important 
theme of tall apartment buildings in the economic development and architectural history of 

• 6901 Oglesby also represents the importance of cooperative apartments, where individuals 
could own their own apartments, as an important land-ownership innovation in Chicago 
during the 1920s. 

Criterion 4: Important Architecture 

Its exemplification of an architectural type or style distinguished by innovation, rarity, uniqueness, 
or overall quality of design, detail, materials, or craftsmanship. 

• The 6901 Oglesby Cooperative Apartment Building is a handsome and particularly 
noteworthy example of a 1920s-era tall apartment building, a significant building type in the 
history of Chicago's lakefront neighborhoods. 

• 6901 Oglesby is a distinguished example of the English Gothic Revival architectural style, 
one of several historic architectural styles important in defining the historic character of 
Chicago's neighborhoods. 

• 6901 Oglesby is beautifully detailed on its exterior with traditional building materials, 
including red brick and gray Bedford limestone. 

• 6901 Oglesby possesses a visually refined and distinctive group of first-floor public spaces, 
including a reception room, vestibules and elevator lobbies, finely appointed with decorative 
tile work, wood paneling, leaded and stained glass, decorative metal fixtures, plasterwork, 
and decorative painting and stenciling. 


Integrity Criteria 

The integrity of the proposed landmark must be preserved in light of its location, design, 
setting, materials, workmanship and ability to express its historic community, 
architectural or aesthetic interest or value. 

The 6901 Oglesby Cooperative Apartment Building possesses excellent exterior physical 
integrity, displaying through its siting, scale, setbacks and overall design its historic relationship to 
the South Shore neighborhood. It retains its historic overall exterior form and almost all historic 
exterior materials and detailing. Its primary first-floor public rooms (reception room, tenant 
elevator lobbies, and vestibules) also retain almost all of their historic integrity in terms of 
paneling, ceiling ornament, and other detailing. 

Changes to the buildng's exterior include the replacement of original window sash with newer 
multi-paned window sash. Small sections of the building's rooftop parapet have had repair 
tuckpointing where mortar is whiter and visually more dominant than the tuckpointing found 
elsewhere on the building. With these very minor changes, 6901 Oglesby is remarkably well- 
preserved in terms of its exterior and primary first-floor public rooms (reception room, tenant 
elevator lobbies, and vestibules). 

Significant Historical 

and Architectural Features 

Whenever a building, structure, object, or district is under consideration for landmark 
designation, the Commission on Chicago Landmarks is required to identify the "significant 
historical and architectural features" of the property. This is done to enable the owners and the 
public to understand which elements are considered the most important to preserve the historic 
and architectural character of the proposed landmark. 

Based on its evaluation of the 6901 Oglesby Cooperative Apartment Building, the Commission 
recommends that the significant features be identified as: 

• All exterior elevations, including rooflines, of the building; and 

• First-floor public spaces, including the mail vestibule, anteroom, main reception room, and 
two tenant elevator lobbies. 


6901 Oglesby retains excellent historic physical integrity. Top: A rendering from the 
building's sales prospectus. Bottom: A photograph from late 2007. 


6901 Oglesby has beautiful 
tilework in the mail vestibule 
and historic light fixtures in 
both the vestibule and within 
the anteroom, reception 
room, and elevator lobbies. 


Photographs of stained glass in the 
inner doorway separating the mail 
vestibule from the anteroom, the 
decorative plaster ceiling in the 
reception room, and wood ceiling 
beams, ornamented with a variety of 
details including mythological 
griffins, in the anteroom and eleva- 
tor lobbies. 


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The Outstanding Choice of 
■ ■• Architects, Owners arid Tenants 

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A Chicago Tribune advertisement trumpeting the use of General Electric refrigerators in several 
tall apartment buildings constructed in the late 1920s, including 6901 Oglesby (top right). 


Selected Bibliography 

Baird and Warner, A Portfolio of Fine Apartment Homes. Chicago: Baird and Warner, 1928. 

Chicago Defender, various articles. 

Chicago Sun-Times, various articles. 

Chicago Tribune, various articles, advertisements and obituaries. 

Claar, Elmer A. "Cooperative Apartments," Western Architect , April 1926, pp. 42-45. 

Craib-Cox, John, "Houses in the Sky," Architectural Review, Vol. CLXII, No. 968 (October 

1977), pp. 228-230. 
Grossman, James R., Ann Durkin Keating, and Janice L. Reiff. The Encyclopedia of 

Chicago. Chicago: University of Chicago, 2004. 
Harris, Neil. Chicago Apartments: A Century of Lakefront Luxury. New York: Acanthus 

Press, 2004. 
Schwieterman, Joseph P., Dana M. Caspall, and Jane Herron. The Politics of Place: A 

History of Zoning in Chicago. Chicago: Lake Claremont Press, 2006. 
"6901 Oglesby" prospectus. Ryerson and Burnham Libraries, The Art Institute of Chicago. 
Westfall, Carroll William. "From Homes to Towers: A Century of Chicago's Best Hotels and 

Tall Apartment Buildings, "in Chicago Architecture, 1872-1922: Birth of a Metropolis, 

ed. by John Zukowsky. Munich: Prestel-Verlag in association with The Art Institute of 

Chicago, 1987. 
Westfall, Carroll William. "Home at the Top: Domesticating Chicago's Tall Apartment Buildings, 

" Chicago History, Vol. XIV, No. 1 (Spring 1985), pp. 20-39. 


Co=0pera t £ vc 


3-6-7 ROOMS 

DOH HI, A.LL, OUTS I Lit Ur-AfjOUft 

A A I. 

rt n :.- 


noo.M s, 

Ttey ,iNn AKi'-orsTarirs'Tii ah 




'Ctlter " ota 

p-r-«tcmtlrc m 1 . wlltMaw ffiUr full 




, • KKCLL-aiT-VSALtl, 

A Chicago Tribune advertisement from 
March 1928 advertising apartments at 
6901 Oglesby. 


Architect Paul Frederick Olsen, 
the designer of 6901 Oglesby, 
also designed several other 
apartment buildings on 
Chicago's South Side. (Right) 
The Vista Homes at 5830-44 S. 
Stony Island Ave., built in 1925- 
27 as a cooperative apartment 
building, was built with an 
attached two-story, 100-car 
enclosed garage touted in the 
press as the "World's 1st Co-Op 

Olsen also designed rental 
apartment buildings in the 
South Shore neighborhood for 
developer Walter F. Kinnucan, 
including (bottom left) the 
Gothic-detailed Bedford Villa 
Apartments at 7128-38 S. Cyril 
Ave., built in 1928; and (bottom 
right) the Jeffery Terrace 
Apartments at 7130 S. Jeffery 
Blvd., built in 1929 in the 
newly-fashionable Art Deco 
architectural style. 




Richard M. Daley, Mayor 

Department of Planning and Development 

Arnold L. Randall, Commissioner 

Brian Goeken, Deputy Commissioner for Landmarks 

Project Staff 

Terry Tatum, research, writing, photography and layout 
Brian Goeken, editing 

Special thanks to Charlene W. Godwin of the 6901 Oglesby Cooperative Building board of 
directors for her assistance with this report. 


Department of Planning and Development, Landmarks Division: pp. 3, 5 (top left and right, 

middle left and right), 9 (bottom right), 12, 13, 15, 16 (top), 18, 20, 21, 22, 23, 25 

(top left, middle right, bottom), 27, 29 (bottom), 31, 32. 
Edgewater Historical Society: p. 5 (bottom). 
From Harris, Chicago Apartments: p. 6 (top), 34 (top). 
From Westfall, "From Homes to Towers:" pp. 6 (bottom left and right), p. 9 (top), 25 (top 

right, middle left). 
From Baird and Warner, A Portfolio of Fine Apartment Homes: p. 9 (bottom left). 
Chicago Tribune: p. 10 (top left), 30, 33. 
Ryerson and Burnham Libraries, The Art Institute of Chicago: p. 10 (top right, bottom), 29 

(top), 35, 36. 
Chicago Historic Resources Survey: p. 16 (bottom), 34 (bottom left and right). 



David Mosena, Chairman 
John W. Baird, Secretary 
Phyllis Ellin 
Christopher R. Reed 
Edward I. Torrez 
Ben Weese 
Ernest C. Wong 

The Commission is staffed by the 

Chicago Department of Planning and Development 

33 N. LaSalle Street, Suite 1600, Chicago, IL 60602 

312-744-3200; 744-2958 (TTY) 

Printed March 2008; Revised and Reprinted June 2008.